Thursday, May 24, 2018

Composting Five Ways

You've heard it before.
Compost is one of the most beneficial additions to the soil.
It is most notably called "black gold"
because of the improved nutrient content it creates
in even the poorest soils.
Whether you have abundant space or not enough,
composting is a worthwhile endeavor
if you are determined to improve the results in your garden.

Compost feeds the soil,
which in turn, nurtures the crops it grows.
By improving the soil with compost,
plants are likely to be healthier,
have an easier time fighting off pests,
and are more likely to reach their greatest potential.

Composting is only limited by your imagination.
Techniques are numerous,
you just need to find what works for you.
These are a few ideas to get you started.

 Start a leaf pile.
If you have mature trees on your property,
or know someone who does,
just begin piling up leaves in a heap.
It doesn't get more basic than that.
In fact, neighbors are often thrilled to be asked
 for their leaves.
Instead of watching them being carted off by the refuse truck,
put them to work in your yard by piling them up
and letting them break down over time.

This method takes some patience,
but you'll be handsomely rewarded with lots of earthworms
that can work their magic in the soil
and make planting time much easier.

Place a compost bin somewhere on your property.
Even if you don't have acreage,
these bins comes in various sizes
and can take up very little room.
It's easy enough to add food scraps, some soil,
and shredded leaves once a week 
until it gets filled to the top.
The bonus with this method is that the compost
is hidden inside, so things are kept neat-n-tidy.
This is a great choice for those folks who live with 
Home Owners' Associations.

Another option for those dealing with strict regulations,
is to utilize direct composting.
Simply dig a hole or trench in the soil near the garden,
and directly place food scraps and other organic materials,
then cover back up with the same soil.

Having a plastic container such as an old coffee bin,
or a plastic bag in the freezer is an easy way to keep kitchen scraps.
As the week progresses, add to the bin or bag
and when it is full, take it out to the garden and use the direct compost method.

Creating a worm bin is quick and so easy.
With only a few materials and about an hour's time,
this composter comes together and can be kept indefinitely.
Once the worms are placed in the container,
 just continue adding shredded paper and kitchen scraps.
The worm castings can be added to the garden at any time.

For those with a bit more space,
an open pile is probably the easiest choice.
Simply designate an area in your yard
and begin layering twigs, shredded leaves,
kitchen scraps, grass clippings, 
and anything else that can be properly composted.
As long as you keep meat, dairy, grease
and other animal products out of the stack,
it should not attract unwanted critters to the pile.

Compost can take anywhere from a few months
to a year or more to complete its transformation.
The difference in the timeline depends on many things including:
the moisture in the pile,
the size of the materials added,
how often (if ever) the pile is turned. 

Once the compost looks loose and crumbly,
it can be added to garden beds.
So, why not compost?
With so many options,
it is one of the easiest things to do
for the health of your plants.

 For more information,
check out this NC State Extension link.

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